(5:36 P.M. Sunday: The Gator Bowl officially invited Florida State from the “Athletic Coast Conference.”)
We at the jointly owned Charleston Daily Mail and Gazette produce and publish a “Gameday” tab for every football game and within each one we pick the score and add a quip about the game. Mine this week: WVU 24, Rutgers 21 with the quip “Regular-season finale = obscure Stewart speech!”
A year ago WVU defeated South Florida in the final game of the regular season and Stewart had one of his best and most memorable moments afterward. It was dubbed “The Quizzical Comment,” it was later explained and it gave birth to what is the most repeated and probably most popular inside reference here — Oll Stewart (credit, by the way, to StraightOuttaNorthCentral who first put it out there).
Well, WVU was WVU Saturday against Rutgers — turnovers, ball-security trouble, inconsistent offense, great defense, great punting, kickoff disaster, still good enough to win — and afterward Stewart was Stewart.
I asked in the press conference if, perhaps, this game paralleled the entire season (and I absolutely believe it did … and I wasn’t alone). The response was terrific.
“I’ll tell you what I’ve seen the entire season. I’ve seen four quarters of not great football for West Virginia. Let me slow this down for you real good, everybody. Listen to me: We’re 9-3. We’re 9-3. You understand how many teams in America would like to be 9-3 now? I’m not scolding you. I’m telling you. I’ve been keeping this in too long. Bill Stewart is going to punch back a little bit today. We’re 9-3. We’re going to the Gator Bowl. OK? We had a bad fourth quarter at Auburn. OK. I didn’t throw that kid under the bus. We didn’t do very well. We had a bad fourth quarter at Auburn. We had three bad quarters at South Florida. That’s what Mike’s alluding to. Mike, I’m scolding you either. You’re my buddy. But write that. Write the truth. We had four bad quarters of football. We took a Cincinnati team to an onside kick. Fifth in the country. Three points. At their place. We lost to them by three points at our place last year and they were conference champs. There were some ups and downs, you betcha, but a whole lot more ups than downs. Don’t tag my name to anything other than this is a 9-3 football team. And that’s from my heart and as businesslike as I can be and it’s fair. I’m not going to let people keep telling me my players and my boys are not good. They’re 9-3. I told you about the four quarters. I told you about Cincinnati. Now, did we win pretty all the time? No, but, by God, that was pretty to me today. Next.”